Helping English Language Learners Orientation for Teachers
Two Types of Proficiency  You may have heard teachers say, “Why does he need ESL?  He speaks English very well.  He talks all the time.”  When asked how the student is functioning academically, the response is, “He’s below grade-level, and not doing well,  but the problem must be something other than language.”  This child has acquired the social language (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills-BICS), but not yet achieved the academic language (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency-CALP), or full proficiency in English.  He needs more time for focused academic language development.   BICS vs. CALP                          
BICS are Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills. These are the language skills needed for everyday personal and social communication. Second language learners must have BICS in order to interact on the playground and in the classroom. It usually takes students from 1-3 years to completely develop this social language. BICS are not necessarily related to academic success. Time to master:  1 to 3 years   Characteristics: Basic “survival” English Context embedded-applies to real life situations; can be pointed to or acted out Carry on intelligible conversations about cognitively undemanding topics (TV, classroom activities, friends, family) Interact with English-speaking peers Use language needed to function in everyday interpersonal contexts (pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary) Can mislead teachers
CALP is Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency is the language associated with native language literacy and cognitive development. These are the language skills needed to undertake academic tasks in the mainstream classroom. It includes content- specific vocabulary. It may take students from 5 to 7 years to develop CALP skills. CALP developed in the first language contribute to the development of CALP in the second language. Time to master: 3 to 10 years   Characteristics: Language needed to succeed in school May be more abstract and less connected to real life Language needed to accomplish academic tasks Context reduced language, abstract Literacy skills & content area knowledge Opinions and feelings expressed Skills needed to manipulate language outside of the immediate interpersonal context Content-reduced, cognitively demanding language used in classroom activities, such as writing, spelling and test taking    
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